There has been lots of speculation on the hows and whys of the Federal Court decision to free Anwar Ibrahim from jail, allowing him to get medical surgery in Munich. There have been words of admiration for the 'new-found independence' of the judiciary. There has been talk of 'winds of change' under Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
I'm one of those who believes this whole episode came about the usual way - it was a deliberate decision taken at the highest levels of the Umno power elite, finely calibrated and then ordered to be implemented by the judiciary.
Spineless judiciaries don't grow backbones overnight, and genial 'stop-gap' prime ministers don't shake the boat willy-nilly.
Umno was simply caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Anwar's rapid physical deterioration in prison forced the party to accept one of two unpalatable choices.
The preferred choice would have been to leave Anwar in prison. But it seemed almost inevitable that, at best, Anwar would become physically crippled, and at worst, he could lose his life.
Either of these occurrences would have forever stained Umno and its leaders, both past, present and future. The party would have become an international pariah, and there was a chance Anwar's death or disability could have resulted in the kind of domestic upheaval even Umno could not have controlled.
The other choice was to let Anwar go and have his surgery. And this choice looked tantalisingly manageable for the ruling party.
The most important factor was that Umno had won an overwhelming mandate in the last general election, just as Keadilan had suffered an almost complete defeat. It was as clear an indication as there could be that 'people power' was now firmly behind Umno.
And even after his release, Anwar would have his work cut out for him. There would have to be the surgery, followed by rehabilitation. Only after that could Anwar hope to start almost from a scratch to try and achieve the kind of mass support he enjoyed during the heydays of reformasi.
There is no guarantee he can do that again. And even if he could, and once again pose a serious threat to the power elite, well, he could, as a last resort, always be thrown back into the slammer on some new excuse ... and without the physical handicaps of the last time.
After all, despite all the smoke and thunder the last time it happened, Umno did get away with it for six long years - and actually got Malaysian voters to support it again, to boot!
So it appears that Dr Mahathir Mohamad's consent must have been secured, and the Federal Court dutifully carried out their instructions.
A look at some of the details of the court decision clearly shows a plan at work. For one thing, it was a 2-1 decision, sending the message that Anwar was being released ... but only just. More important though was the paradoxical declaration by one judge that Anwar was definitely guilty, but there wasn't enough evidence to prove it.
That was no idiotic slip of the mind. That portion of the judgment will allow the establishment to carry on painting Anwar as guilty, and thus unfit to be exonerated or allowed to be put into a position of power.
The second part of the Umno plan was carried out when Anwar asked for his corruption conviction to be overturned so that he could take part fully in political activities again.
Sorry ... we had no choice but to let you have medical surgery, but we are under no such compelling pressure to allow 'political surgery', Umno said through the courts.
The party has thrown down the gauntlet and sent the message that it will use all means at its disposal - fair and foul - to try and thwart Anwar from becoming a viable political threat.
The biggest risk for Umno is that there really is no foolproof 'Anwar repellant' the party can manufacture. Anwar is simply too charismatic a man to be neatly bottled up, and there is a real possibility he could rapidly galvanise mass anti-government support on his return to Malaysia.
And therein lies the danger for Anwar. He will do well to remember what happened to Benigno Aquino in the Philippines. I hope he will be smart and careful about how he goes about his business. His opponents have shown themselves to be ruthless in the past, and there is no indication the a leopard changes its spots.
Time may not be on the side of Anwar, the 57-year-old seeking to win power in the face of overwhelming odds. But time is on the side of Anwar, the powerful symbol of those who want to see meaningful political change in Malaysia.
Hopefully, the symbol's chances of success are not hampered by the person's quest for his goals. Many of us would love to see Anwar become prime minister.
But it is more important for Malaysians to be furnished permanent, robust and viable political alternatives in a genuine and moderate two-or-more-party system.